Flash Cards, Next Step

Note: Congratulations to Deborah Weber, who won the book. And thanks to all of you for your great ideas. Now to decide which ones to try.. . .

A generous soul gave me a box of flashcards some years ago. They showed up again when i was cleaning up the studio. There are about 200 of them. They are page_cardivory card stock, 8.5 inches long and 3.5 inches wide. Sturdy with rounded corners. Each one has a word on one side, and a small number in the upper left-hand corner.The other side is blank.

What do I do with them?
I’m looking for creative, interesting ideas–not ones that anyone might think of–bookmarks, journal covers, journal pages.
Think of something you would love to do with them.  Or something you wold love to see them turn into.

I love combining words and art, so I should have thought of something really fast, but I didn’t. So I’m asking you. What should I make from these cards?

collage workbookIf you leave a comment, you have a chance to win the Collage Workbook, by Randall Plowman– a quirky, interesting source book for collage ideas.

So let’s hear those imaginative ideas!

–Quinn McDonald has found some extra time hidden in the studio.

72 thoughts on “Flash Cards, Next Step

  1. I’m thinking of a huge empty wall, maybe painted in nice bright colors, and arranging the cards in a sort of found poetry way on them. I think there’s such a thing as magnetic paint and if you put a magnet on the back of the cards you could even rearrange them whenever you feel like it. You know, like those magnets with words on them for on the fridge, but much much bigger. I have a huge wall in my hallway that would be perfect for this. 😉 PS Don’t include me in the draw, I own the book already.

  2. You can make a tree thingy form willow sticks in a pyramid tepee type shape,that would do the trick! But a big bush would suffice!x

  3. Use as a writing prompt. On the reverse write any and everything that the word brings up.
    Page; The small boy stood by at court each day waiting for an errand. As he stood there, incredibly bored with all the coversations going on around him (why did the adults think he was deaf, and didn’t they know how stupid they sounded?) he looked out of the window at the weeping willow blowing in the wind. Those graceful free-flowing movements made him want to . . . . .

  4. Try your monsoon trick on a few. Fussy cut the edge, and give as gratitude cards for class participants. It could be used as a framed piece of art or a start off point for the student’s personal art journey.

  5. woof! so much creativity in one space! Here are a couple of ideas to add to your already sparkling pile!
    Use as a teaching tool. Have participants take the time to select cards with words they like. They will unconsciously pick words that relate. It’s just our way. Then have them stand in a circle and toss their cards into the air and change places to pick up cards without looking or thinking too much. Now they have words without prior thinking, without relationships, or perhaps even connections. It’s an exercise designed to free imagination, give up control, and see what happens.

    Idea two: Create a mobile or screen using words, origami, and photos. Or, with a nod to grade school, incorporate # 2 pencils, pink pearl erasers, and stickers hung from shoelaces.

    Thanks for the imagination breakfast, Quinn!

  6. Glue them together into a block and make a box.
    Install a Raspberry Pi tiny-computer inside (I have one you can use).
    Attach a small flat-panel display to the outside.
    Run a program (I can write it for you) that displays all the words from the cards, one after another, over and over.

  7. Second idea which combines some of others but was a thought before I read them. Hole punch them,put a ribbon or string through so they can hang. On your next workshop…residential maybe…you could have a group meditation. Find a tree,all pick a word,each person hangs it on the tree….small tree….then you can do a gratitude meditation all sitting around the tree. Even nicer,take ribbons of different colours and the tree becomes a piece of art in itself. You can collect them after and use them again on another workshop or people can keep them! X

    • Tree? oh, yeah, those things that grow in other places. HAHAHA! No, we do have trees here. Most of them have thorns, but I love the idea of ribbons and holes and meditation. I do love that a lot.

  8. What about some random street art? Put them in your car,and over next few months pull one out and leave it in an intersting place that seems appropriate at the time. Think of the ramifications of all the people that you will never meet who read that word and related it to something ,wondered why it was there and just got thinking about words and meanings and art…..spread the art joy Quinn! I would like it and be curious if I found a word on a park bench or in crevice of a tree or hole in a wall or a supermarket carpark trolley!xxx

    • Here that’s called “Abandoned Art” and I have been thinking that it would be wonderful to do that. Write the message on the back, leave just the word on the front. I’ve also thought of leaving some of them around, asking people to draw, write, or create in some way on them, and mail them back. I’d put postage on it.

  9. I wish I could take credit for this idea, but I can’t. A blogger named Lyn Thurman (hope I spelled that correctly) leaves notes in places for strangers and loved ones. The messages on the notes are designed to remind people that they are valuable.. Of course, because the words are already written on the cards, you’ll have to incorporate those words into your cheery message

  10. put random words on one side of them, visuals/collages on the other that are more ephemeral, and play found poetry using both sides. Deal a hand to students and have them use their cards as prompts to create writings/pages. 🙂

  11. Hi, Quinn,
    I suggest that you get a lampshade with room for a couple of tiers, trim the cards narrower and make lampshades by decorating the cards, punching holes in them and weaving colored ribbons in and out around the circle.. Then also tying them to each other and the shade wires at the top and bottom..Google lampshade wires images. There are tons of styles. If you made the rows horizontal, perhaps you could create American haiku.
    Or make a room separator for a doorway like we used to do with beads. The cards could just be decorated or could be made to form a picture as they hang.

    • Ohhhhh, lampshade and room divider are really appealing. They won’t let the light through (they are too heavy for that), but combined with holes punched in them (maybe to spell the word that’s on the card, or another one) this is a great idea!

  12. All fabulous ideas to consider, but please consider mine. My brain went something like this: Ok, to win this great book, I need to think outside the box. And, that was it: A BOX! Maybe an inspiration box using artfully enhanced choice words. Decorate and paint the cards, then attach to a somewhat small cardboard box. Do this on all sides so that whenever it’s picked up, there will a word or words to provide solace, encouragement or inspiration to the viewer . . .

  13. Oh what a fabulous re-find of a wonderful gift! And what wonderful suggestions. I’d totally want to create a mobile/hanging paper sculpture for my studio. I’d punch holes in the cards (leaving the words readable of course) and hang them at various lengths and configurations around a light source (I’m thinking fairy lights perhaps) – something so that the light shines through the holes. Because flash cards need flash IMHO.

  14. I like Pete’s idea– but what if each card’s story could stand alone but still be part of a whole? So the cards don’t have to be kept in a particular order.

    I think I’d color the front of hte card with transparent media and perhaps transparent collage–either print onto tissue or tea bags or use acrylic medium to make a transparency. I also love the word screen idea. Since they won’t degrade in your weather, what about hanging them outside? Perhaps on a tree or fence (people are yarn bombing in public areas–you could word bomb!).

    The other thing you could likely do is peel the word off the the card, just the top layer of the cardboard, and use it to add to a collage. Sometimes I don’t want the thickness of the cardboard, just the image. I use an exacto knife to cut a “box” around the image and then gently pry up a corner to peel.

    Thanks for the fun creative momemt in the midst of my workday!

  15. I would put my pen on the side of the card with the word, make a mark and see where it took me. I’d go with the flow of the moment with no plan.

  16. I would start by putting the cards in numerical order. Then I would use the cards to create a “book” of daily things you are grateful for. If the words can be incorporated in noting what you are grateful for all the better. Finally I would collage, doodle, paint etc. around the gratitude phrase. On blank side of the card you could journal more about the thing you are grateful for. Add “the story” behind the gratitude. Have fun, Quinn & thanks for the giveaway opportunity. I’d love to win Randall’s book.

    • There is something about that numerical order, isn’t there? I’m glad I wasn’t the only person drawn to that. And a gratitude journal is always useful. Particularly after the last few days I’ve had!

  17. I would probably paint them on the blank side, then do some fun Zentangle patterns around the word side, and then hang them from the ceiling so a breeze would catch them and both sides would show. 🙂

  18. cut out the letters but leave card whole…retains word;then use card as stencil.The individual letters go in a brown bag as “blind grab” source for new words…

    • What a fabulous idea! I’m not sure I have the dexterity to trim the word out neatly enough, but I love the idea. Not just as a stencil, but to play with the positive and negative space, maybe layering them! Great idea!

  19. Cut a few cards into strips and weave the words together to make interesting shapes. Not like a Scrabble game (unless that works for the composition) but more textural. You could paint them first with liquid watercolor or re-inker stain or or not. Fasten them down with acrylic medium or use Golden fiber paste acrylic medium dropping liquid acrylic color as you go. Might make an interesting collage.

  20. As a teacher, I have lots of flash cards that I keep assembled on big metal rings. How about creating poems using each letter of the word as the beginning of a new line?

    • I’d love that. There isn’t too much wall space (window, closet door, room door, bookcase) but combining your idea with the hanging one, gives me an idea of connecting postcards from postcrossing and these cards into a long hanging piece of art.

  21. The back is blank…I would use the word on each card as inspiration for a tiny poem, quote or haiku on that blank side…of course it needs to contain the word 🙂 If a collage can be incorporated, so much the better—the word could be either incorporated or become the title of the miniature collage. Sounds like fabulous fun as I adore writing and collage.

    • I have used a few in Postcrossing. They make excellent postcards. People in Japan and China love them because they have “different” writing on them. I could add some color and do more, though.

  22. How many are there? Perhaps joining them together in an interesting way so that they hang from the floor to the ceiling. Perhaps a few rows of them. Kind of an installation type of thing.

  23. Write a story in a box, each episode fitting on the back of a card so it could be secretly smuggled out of…(don’t want to give it away), in numerical order, and each episode themed according to the word on the other side. The title of the story, of course, is some derivative of the flash card numbers, which in some way describes the story’s main character.

  24. Make your own dictionary. Love your mixture of word image and thoughts. We all need to explore.In response to Quinn blogpost 20092013today:
    Card stock / flash cards
    Start a brainstorm/spider diagram of associations, doodling over and around the letters on the card
    Look up the word in a thesaurus
    this will often provide a range of connected areas, beyond that first, obvious, literal image
    each may spark off more directions and associations
    Continue capturing them using a fine nibbled pen
    Then put the card away.
    Let you brain loose to make its own connections and choices.
    It will remember the associations and images that resonate with you.
    So when you come back to the card and turn it over, that empty page will be ready to be filled with your personal interpretation.
    It may be a plan to make a hand bound journal with leaf shaped pages
    Or your own version of an illuminated manuscript on the flash card itself
    But it won’t be the first thing that jumped into your head (or perhaps it will!) 
    It will have become ‘your word’
    All on one card.

  25. Hi Quinn! Love your books and work! First idea a haunted house of cards (of a Roald Dahl teacher). Second a colorful Jacob ‘s ladder with rhyming words. Third an illustrated fan of words that rhyme or some assortment. Last an illustrated pack for an extremely lucky child..an heirloom!

        • In the early history of Japan, women used fans as journals, or as communication with friends. Women weren’t allowed to travel alone, or travel much at all, and they spent a lot of time developing a complicated language to put on the limited space of fans. It’s a great idea to do something like that.

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